Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for Cycling

ATHLETIC COMPETITION THROUGH LIFE

Do you yearn for more physical activity in your life – perhaps a sport from your youth? You may have a secret passion for something you have not yet tried.  Opportunities abound at any age, so why not explore them?

There is a world of friendly competitive sports out there for the senior athlete, be you a novice or from the world of the elite. From alpine skiing to weightlifting, there is a sport (or two) for each of us.

Many organizations open opportunities to train and compete with those in our own age group. To offer you a smattering of those, let’s start with the Senior Games.

National Senior Games Association

The National Senior Games Association(NSGA) offers competition at the state and national level in 20 different sports categories for athletes age 50 or over.

Athletes compete in games at the state level in even numbered years, i.e., this year and meet the minimum performance standards shown on the website in order to qualify to go to the national games in the odd numbered years.

Contact information for each state is listed on the NSGA website. The 2019 national games will be in Albuquerque, New Mexico in June 2019. You will have plenty of company as the national games usually draw 10,000 – 12,000 participants.

Sound interesting? Take a look at the state game schedule. Not every state offers every sport and most states will allow qualifying for out-of-state athletes. For example, my state doesn’t offer road racing, so in past years I have participated and qualified at the Delaware State Games.

Huntsman World Senior Games

The Huntsman World Senior Games have been around for more than 30 years and hold competition in 20 different sports. Where NSGA changes the locations of the biennial games, the Huntsman Games are held annually and always in Utah. Again, they are open to athletes age 50 and over, through 100+ years.

The Huntsman Games use the NSGA minimum participation standards. Contact, registration and information on each of the sports offered is available on the Huntsman website.

USA Track & Field (USATF)

Where other organizations catering to senior athletes offer a variety of sports, USATF is specifically track and field events, which still provides a wide variety of venues.

The Masters category starts at age 30 with USATF. Keep in mind though that competition is held within 5-year age groups. Currently, I’m in the group Female AG 70-74.

USATF Masters events are held regionally and nationally. Information on international venues for Masters is also available on their website.

Beyond Athletic Competition

Travel Opportunity

Many organizations have events locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. If travel is one of your joys, sports make a wonderful excuse to take a second vacation.

After your competition or training, spend a bit more time in tourist mode, kick back and enjoy. And while you are busy preparing for your event, the rest of the family can take in some local color.

By example, several of my siblings accompanied me to Senior Games in Minneapolis one year where they happened across hundreds of bicyclists coming down the street in the ‘Freedom from Pants’ Bike Ride, which was pretty much like it sounds. We followed that up with a much more sedate evening with the Minneapolis Orchestra accompanied by a choir from Cuba.

Family & Friends Support

Get your family and friends into the spirit. I’ve seen two and three generations of families supporting their senior family members in competition.

After many seasons of freezing on the sidelines or sitting on hard grandstand seats in support of your children or grandchildren, give them the opportunity to be there to cheer you on. What an example you will set.

Senior Athlete Websites

Websites that cater to senior athletes offer inspirational articles about people like ourselves who have been late starters or recently renewed their interest in sports. Others offer information on training specific to the older athlete, in addition to health-related issues.

Join as a Spectator

If you are not yet ready to jump in as a participating athlete, attend and enjoy any of the above as a spectator. USATF has the most accessible regional competitions with many indoors where there is the opportunity to witness our counterparts sharing competition and camaraderie.

What do you do to stay fit and healthy? Have a chat with your health care professional and get the green light. If you have recently embarked on a new activity or participated in a senior competition, what was your experience? Please share it with us in the comments below.

This is an adapted version of my article previously published on http://sixtyandme.com.

 

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A Year of Running and Writing

September of 2012, I touched the “publish” button and with that simple action my first blog post was released.

English: birthday cake

Happy 1st, stillarunner Credit: Wikipedia

My expectations were to make contact with a few senior runners who I could learn from and who may be interested in my quirky training methods, my running travels and attempts at eating well.  The pleasant surprise was readers from 40 different countries and interest of runners from all over the world, and all age groups from beginners to elite runners.

In addition to runners, I’ve found – and been found by – bloggers who are incredible foodies, fashionistas, philosophers, photographers, cyclists, triathloners, every combination thereof, and just really good story tellers.

To celebrate my blog birthday, my gift to readers is a list (12 for 12 months of blogging) that I look forward to seeing appear. Several bloggers opened my eyes to before unknown activities, such as:

Park Runs –  Am I the only runner who hadn’t heard of these?

parkrun logo

parkrun logo

They are 5K runs that take place at the same locations weekly, usually in parks.  Park Runs are timed events, free, and open to everyone of every ability.  They began in the UK in 2004 and have since grown to include runs in seven countries, including the USA.  Thank you Run, Hemingway, Run for the introduction to park runs.

Gravel Grinders – Never heard of them?  Me, either, until a few posts from CultFit, a Midwestern philosopher athlete who broadens my awareness with every post he writes.

Credit: Chris Locke

Credit: Chris Locke

Gravel Grinders are distance bike rides – or races – that take place on gravel roads, generally in the Midwest but spreading to other rural areas.  Reading about the rides with minimal support, minimal traffic – the occasional farm machinery or animals crossing the road, may encourage this just-the-basics, fearful of traffic, timid cyclist the whif of adventure to think she could do this.  It’s on the possibility list for 2014.

Triathlons that include horseback – Hadn’t heard of this either, but now I know.  No, this isn’t on the list for 2014, but it was on the list for Chasing The Blackwood Marathon. This athlete’s writing clearly conveys her love of the outdoors and her beautiful country.

And what more have I learned?

That I can go to Move, Eat, Create and find recipes that are healthy and as delectable to the eye and the taste buds as any food site I have found.

That I am susceptible to being pulled into the triathlon world by Triathlon Obsession, Ashleystri and nonblogging friends who are just as obsessed as these bloggers.

That the reviews of All Seasons Cyclist can be useful for this infrequent cyclist. His blog is a great place to browse if you’re thinking of adding to your gear.

From my blogging friend Red Hen , I learned that humor in writing is a wonderful way to share your running escapades.  I vicariously join her on training runs along the craggy coast near her home.

One of my earliest readers, a strong ultrarunner and the writer of Mind Margins, has reinforced my knowledge that real toughness comes when life throws us stuff that no training plan could contemplate.

And finally, I’ve found – or they found me – three photography blogs that are great for armchair adventure and relaxation after a tough run:

Patrick Latter’s hiking photography,
Sethsnap‘s whimsical photos of mostly rural Ohio, and
Merilee’s haunting black and white photography at thegravelghost.

Thanks for being with me this year and I hope you enjoy some of my reads I’m sharing.

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